The president and senior pastor at Omega Fire Ministries (Worldwide), Apostle (Prof.) Johnson Suleman, has warned the government against paying religious leaders salaries.
He stressed that rather than sanitize, the government’s decision could further endanger the fragile peace existing among religious bodies, the society at large and also promote corruption.
The man of God spoke at the backdrop of the Lagos State government’s plan to place Pastors and Imams in the state on a salary structure.
The government’s decision was announced by the state’s commissioner for home affairs, Abdulhakeem Abdulateef, during a sensitization programme for Imams and scholars across the state on Thursday, July, 26, 2018.
The commissioner stated that the plan was “a way of carrying out reorientation of the citizenry to shun corruption and immorality,” adding that, “Imams and Pastors are believed to be men of God. So we need all of them to help us to encourage the right values in the society; particularly in the area of accountability and anti-corruption.”
However, Suleman disagreed with the government’s reason, noting that “It is diversionary, a misconception and political gimmick.” The popular cleric questions the government’s sincerity behind the plan being made at an election period.
According to Suleman, “he that pays the piper dictates the tune. When a man starts paying you, you have to do things to please the person. If a government pays you, you can never criticize that government. In essence, no pastor should be paid by government, it is not scriptural. To me, it is an avenue to promote corruption. Paying religious leaders individually is going to be political and it’s going to cause more problems. The government should just leave things the way they are.”
Meanwhile, Apostle Suleman recommends that rather than paying individual religious leaders which could promote divisions in the Church, government can still support religious bodies and help promote peace either by giving subventions once in a while or building ecumenical centers for religious bodies or erecting galleries that can be hired for worship.